Heel fissures, or cracked skin on your heels, can be a source of discomfort and self-consciousness. Heel fissures often develop when calluses are already present on the outer edge of your heel, as this skin is usually hard and dry, making it more prone to cracking.
If left untreated, the cracks can become deep and start to bleed, or may become infected. This is especially dangerous for individuals with weakened immune systems.
Causes of heel fissures
Xerosis or dry skin is the most common cause of heel fissures. Heel fissures may also form when continuous pressure is placed on the heels. This typically occurs as a result of walking or standing on the feet for long periods of time. Wearing shoes with open backs may also lead to heel fissures, as the lack of heel support allows the fat to expand and pressure on the heel causes the skin to crack.
You may have an increased risk of developing heel fissures if you:
- Are overweight.
- Frequently wear shoes with open backs.
- Have a health condition that can cause dry skin such as diabetes or underactive thyroid.
- Have inactive sweat glands.
- Spend most of the day on your feet.
- Suffer from psoriasis or eczema.
Heel fissures symptoms
Heel fissures typically affect both feet, but may only occur on one foot. Individuals who suffer from this condition typically have hard, dry, cracking skin on the heels. Heel fissures may develop on one side of the heel or around the whole outer edge. The condition is usually painful, particularly when weight is placed on the heel. Bleeding may occur, especially if the cracks are deep.
Treatment of heel fissures
Since heel fissures are often caused by dry skin, it is important to keep your skin moisturized. A pumice stone can be used to remove dry, flaky skin. Once the dry skin has been removed, lotion can be applied to keep the remaining skin soft and healthy. It is best to apply lotion to your feet at the start of the day and again before bed.
Also be sure to wear comfortable shoes that keep your heel enclosed. Avoid wearing shoes with open backs, as the lack of support around the heel allows the fat to expand, and pressure can cause the skin to crack, particularly if the skin is already dry.
If cracking is severe and bleeding occurs, or if an infection develops, seek medical treatment.